Community broadband and the smaller nimble providers are often welcomed with open arms, but two years after sub-loop unbundling a cabinet in Essendine it appears that there is pressure from the local community for another solution.
The Parish Council meetings along with a public meeting attended by FibreLincs give the rough impression that there are various issues surrounding the FTTC service that Rutland Telecom is providing, ranging from the £150 set-up through to the lack of retail provider choice.
"There is much disquiet within the village concerning the decision by Rutland County Council to exclude Essendine from the "Digital Rutland" scheme, which is designed, with Government funding, to bring fast Broadband to all parts of Rutland.
Essendine Parish Council deplores this decision – we consider this to be discriminatory and contrary to the "competition" mantra, giving Rutland Telecom a virtual monopoly. British Telecom currently has no plans to extend its Broadband coverage."Extract from Parish Council news for Essendine
Alas from our following of the BDUK process which was actually started by the previous Labour Government, areas that already have one commercial operator in them are excluded from further investment. The rules do allow some overlapping, e.g. if a postcode is served by two cabinets where one is commercially enabled, money can still be spent in the postcode. Alternatively if enabling a cabinet means a small proportion will then have a choice of two providers that is still OK, but a total overlay spending public money to raise competition level is not allowed. The exceptions would be if the commercial service is not providing the speeds the Councils project is designed to deliver. In theory if the 40 Mbps service from Rutland Telecom is only providing speeds of 10 Mbps to the majority, the council could intervene to increase speeds, but given the standard method of deploying a FTTC cabinet this would most likely not bring any further improvements.
The past three decades where Oftel and now Ofcom has worked to increase the level of retail competition in the UK telecoms market is now coming back to bite the smaller operators, as the public have become used to a wide choice of operators and being able to switch around to find the best deal.